Tn is a carbohydrate antigen uniquely exposed on tumor mucins and thus, an ideal target for immunotherapy. However, it has been difficult to elicit protective antibody responses against Tn antigen and other tumor associated carbohydrate antigens. Our study demonstrates this can be attributed to PD-1 immuno-inhibition. Our data show a major role for PD-1 in suppressing mucin- and Tn-specific B-cell activation, expansion, and antibody production important for protection against Tn-bearing tumor cells. These Tn/mucin-specific B cells belong to the innate-like B-1b cell subset typically responsible for T cell-independent antibody responses. Interestingly, PD-1-mediated regulation is B cell-intrinsic and CD4+ cells play a key role in supporting Tn/mucin-specific B cell antibody production in the context of PD-1 deficiency. Mucin-reactive antibodies produced in the absence of PD-1 inhibition largely belong to the IgM subclass and elicit potent antitumor effects via a complement-dependent mechanism. The identification of this role for PD-1 in regulating B cell-dependent antitumor immunity to Tn antigen highlights an opportunity to develop new therapeutic strategies targeting tumor associated carbohydrate antigens.
- Received July 28, 2016.
- Revision received September 27, 2016.
- Accepted October 25, 2016.
- Copyright ©2016, American Association for Cancer Research.